Is peace even possible after recent anti-Christian attacks in Pakistan?

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When Christians were targeted two days ago, they weren't taking a political stand ... they were simply leaving church. This past weekend saw bloodshed from Nairobi to Baghdad to Chicago but the religious murders in Pakistan set it's own gruesome record.



"This morning when we went to come to church that's when we heard the news. That people in Pakistan were worshipping just like we were this morning but as soon as they finished they went outside to their death. So church this morning was completely different knowing that...um...(cries) Sorry....It's just that people are dying everyday just to worship god. And it's just so heartbreaking".

Nitasha Bhatti - Member of the Weston Road Pentecostal church, Toronto

An attack on a Christian church in Pakistan on the weekend killed at least 85 people and left 140 wounded. A group associated with the Taliban claimed responsibility. It's believed to be the deadliest attack on Christians in Pakistan's history. And it comes at a time when the country's Prime Minister is attempting to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban.

Suicide attack on Pakistani church kills 81 —┬áThe Associated Press

Our guest knows too well the consequences of the anti-Christian violence.

pakistan-church-220px.jpg

A pair of suicide bombers blew themselves
up outside the 130-year-old Anglican church
in Pakistan after Sunday mass, the deadliest
attack on Christians in the predominantly
Muslim country. (Reuters/Mohsin Raza)

Peter Bhatti is a Pakistani Christian and the brother of Shahbaz Bhatti, the former Pakistani minister for Minority affairs. Shahbaz Bhatti was assassinated two years ago -- and again, the Taliban claimed responsibility.

Peter Bhatti is founder and chair of International Christian Voice Canada - an organization devoted to raising awareness about the situation of Christians in Pakistan and other religious minorities. He says the latest attack on a church in Peshawar is not an isolated incident because there is a long history of Islamist extremists attacking minorities in Pakistan in order to make that country fully Muslim. Peter Bhatti was in Toronto.

The carnage of the weekend was followed by angry demands from Christians for better protection. The government's efforts to stop the violence have been mostly futile because the Taliban refuses to negotiate. It demands Islamabad withdraw its troops from tribal regions, release prisoners and stop the U.S. drone strikes before it will even consider a peace deal.

The church bombing -- and other recent attacks including on military officials -- have some wondering whether a deal is even possible.

Akbar Ahmed believes it's time for a new strategy. He is Pakistan's former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and Ireland. He is now chair of Islamic Studies and professor of international relations at the American University. He feels the peace talks will not be effective because there is no co-ordinated strategy involving all the players involved. Akbar Ahmed He is the author of The Thistle and the Drone: How American's War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam.


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This segment was produced by The Current's Idella Sturino and Sujata Berry.

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